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Ceremony to mark 116th anniversary of first powered flight

The Wright Brothers Memorial near Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be the site of the ceremony to commemorate the 116th anniversary of the Wrights' first powered flight. (Courtesy photo)

The Wright Brothers Memorial near Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be the site of the ceremony to commemorate the 116th anniversary of the Wrights' first powered flight. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 116th anniversary of powered flight will be observed Dec. 17, to honor the Wright brother’s historic achievement. The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. at the Wright Brothers Memorial near Area B, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, will host and provide opening remarks, along with representatives from the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.  This ceremony has become a tradition in the Miami Valley, as it was first celebrated in 1978 for the 75th anniversary of the Wrights’ first flight in 1903.. 

Brig. Gen. John Newberry, program executive officer for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Tanker Directorate, will be the guest speaker. 

Newberry is responsible for the planning and execution of all life cycle activities for the entire Air Force tanker fleet, including the KC-46, KC-135, and KC-10s.

Kendell Thomson, park superintendent, will present a presidential proclamation prior to the wreath-laying ceremony with members of the Wright family.

A KC-46 Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, will also flyover during the ceremony.

Wright Memorial was constructed from 1938 to 1940 to commemorate the flying achievements of the Wright brothers. The site overlooks Huffman Prairie Flying Field, a national historic landmark where the Wright brothers developed the first practical airplane.

The Wright Memorial and its landscape was designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, who were the founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Orville Wright and some of the 119 students he taught to fly from 1910 to 1916 on the Huffman Prairie Flying Field attended the first dedication ceremony on August 19, 1940.

The Wright Memorial was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. The Wright Memorial, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and its Interpretive Center are owned by the U.S. Air Force and operated by the National Park Service.

This event is free and open to the public.